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View Diary: Supreme Court effectively kills presidential recess appointments (196 comments)

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  •  There's a broader problem here; politicization (8+ / 0-)

    The United States has a highly political bureaucracy and judiciary compared to Western Europe; we're more along the lines of Latin America.  That's a serious problem when it comes to running a stable and effective and non-corrupt government.  And part of that story is that presidential appointment power runs far too deep in the system.  The US president gets to appoint more than 6,000 positions, more than half without Senate confirmation; the UK Prime Minister, only around 140.  And Senate confirmation adds another political step.  It's the same story in most state governments as well.  In return, legislative involvement in these appointments enables rampant obstruction of basic government functions in the event of divided party control, or, as the French euphemistically call it, "cohabitation."  In such a highly polarized country as ours has become, this combination of executive power and legislative obstruction escalates brinksmanship to the point where it's a threat to democracy.

    You could solve the judiciary problem with merit systems for judicial appointments, as in much of Europe, or in Iowa; a mandatory retirement age for government appointments, especially judicial, would help; we probably should end judicial and prosecutorial elections; consider synchronicity for the electoral cycle (four year terms for everyone, no more federal mid-term elections); perhaps even revisit term limits for elected officials so long as they allowed a reasonably long-term outlook (let's say, 12 years).  

    The catch is that the majority of this would require constitutional amendment.  As it is, we have a dangerously rickety system.  The Founders, who figured on another constitutional convention within 20 or 30 years, would, I think, be appalled that we're still on the same document with so few changes despite so much change in society.  So getting there is going to be a long, arduous project.  De-corrupting the elections we've got, with amending Citizens United out of our case law, is probably the starting point.

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